Setback For Ukraine Reforms

-- Prospects that President Leonid D. Kuchma might be able to jump-start Ukraine's crippled economy are considerably dimmer after the Mar. 29 elections. Communists picked up 41 new seats, giving leftist factions more than 170 seats in Ukraine's 450-member Parliament--almost twice as many as moderate pro-reform parties won. The result could doom Kuchma's push to privatize industry, overhaul tax laws, and roll back regulations.

Independents, who made a strong showing, may prove to be a wild card. Many are businesspeople who could support market initiatives. But they're unlikely to form an effective bloc in the fractious legislature, where even pro-reform leaders are squaring off against Kuchma as they position themselves to run in next year's presidential election.

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